Mujuru, Tsvangirai nothing without the other

via Mujuru, Tsvangirai nothing without the other – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 9, 2015

THE latest survey by the respected Mass Public Opinion Institute, published this week, shows that almost half of Zimbabwe’s adult population would vote for President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party were elections to be held now.


While it is difficult to make an accurate prognosis, that is the likely outcome given the realities on the ground unless one major factor at play — fear — is eliminated. The survey made this most crucial nuance: “An overwhelming majority (90%) say they are not very or not free at all to criticise the President and almost half of adult Zimbabweans (49%) are not very free or not free at all to say what they want.”

This tallies with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threats to voters earlier this year when he openly and blatantly warned them against electing anyone from the opposition. And this has echoes from 2001 when Mugabe himself said this in front of the whole world: “Let’s instil fear in the white man.”

Fear, more than anything else, has been the most decisive factor in elections in this country. And we can extrapolate that fear is much more prevalent in rural areas where 55% would vote for Zanu PF than in urban areas, where the ruling party would get only 30% of the vote.

The survey further established: “Support for (MDC leader) Welshman Ncube, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (headed by Simba Makoni) and Zapu (led by Dumiso Dabengwa) approaches zero.”

That cannot be disputed. It does not take rocket science to see that. Instead of growing, the parties they lead have, for all practical purposes, fallen into semi-comatose or are shrinking fast. What could be the reasons for their dismal failure?

Makoni appears too “gentlemanly” and too methodical for the hard-nosed, raucous politics in today’s Zimbabwe. He does not seem eager and hungry enough to get on with it. Could he be that reluctant politician who feels he is being compelled to do things that he would rather not do? Would he rather be back as Sadc executive secretary than work with rotten partners as politicians often have to?

Ncube could be too cerebral; that is, he tends to use his brain more than his heart/emotions. But in politics, there is need to balance intelligence with instinct. Ncube has often come up with otherwise insightful approaches to issues, but the problem with cerebral personalities is that in searching for the basis of everything, they get bogged down to the point where the situation or circumstance is over-analysed.

Thabo Mbeki was too celebral for the ANC in South Africa and the ruling party recalled him for the folksy Jacob Zuma. Who can be more informal and unpretentious than Zuma, and more serious-minded and cold in manner than Mbeki? In politics you need to be both a thinker and a feeler.

Dabengwa has failed to project himself as the natural successor to the late Joshua Nkomo. This is because political support is not automatically transferable like inherited wealth in the same way a professor does not bequeath his degrees to his children.

People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti comes a distant but respectable fourth at 10% for a newly-formed party.

That he has not shirked from throwing back punches could be a sign of his strong political instincts. He dishes out the good, the bad and the ugly in equal measure.

Apart from avoiding sounding like a gasbag — a person given to long-winded, pompous talk impressed by their own self-importance — he could have started on the right foot. But will he maintain that when the novelty wears off and the frustrations and internal squabbles set in and members start defecting back to where he came from — MDC-T — or even crossing to Zanu PF?

However, interestingly — and significantly — 34% of those surveyed said they trusted main opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, while 29% felt so about former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, giving the two a combined approval rating of 63%; in other words, a clear majority.

It’s about both of them together.

But, isn’t it strange that the survey found that the person that Zimbabweans fear most (Mugabe) is the one they trust most? Fear and trust cannot co-exist. They are opposites. They have converse effects. Where there is fear, there is mistrust.

There is an obvious mismatch there showing how the people’s psyche has been damaged by fear to make them willing accomplices in their victimisation. What is needed is to embolden people to vote without fear.

As long as the detested and feared oppressive system is in place, many people will look no further than Tsvangirai and Mujuru.

That is why Tsvangirai has survived many internal challenges, not any other special reason. They are, as it were, the man and woman of the moment in the same way that Ian Smith, by being uncompromising, made the militant Robert Mugabe the man of the moment as Mugabe, because of his direct confrontational stance, was increasingly viewed as the saviour and eclipsed such luminaries as Nkomo.

But it could be a different ball game altogether when Zimbabwe is finally out of this nightmare.

To illustrate the point, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was the man of the moment during the Second World War (1939-1945), but the British electorate sent him packing after the war because the very qualities that had made him a great leader in war — combativeness, doggedness — were ill-suited to domestic politics in peacetime. Similarly, both Tsvangirai and Mujuru could be made redundant after it’s all over.

But, Zimbabwe is in a mighty mess, so we need Tsvangirai and Mujuru’s combined strengths — for now — because they are nothing without the other.
●Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email:


  • comment-avatar
    Fundani Moyo 7 years ago

    Isn’t it obvious that people do not trust those conducting the survey. If you live in a police state, you are constantly suspicious of anyone asking for your honest opinion. Believe me if power shifted today, you will be amazed at how many of those surveryed will be dancing in the streets.